As we continue to hand out 1st Quarter grades for the University of Louisville football program we now look into the defense. When it comes to defense we decided to get maybe the most difficult grading out of the way early. Louisville’s secondary is comprised of some very high level FBS talent all across it’s starting lineup. We know all about Hakeem Smith’s accolades his freshman and sophomore seasons. Calvin Pryor may be the best on the defensive side of the football period and has found himself listed as ESPN’s Big East Defensive Player Of The Week already this year. Adrian Bushell, Andrew Johnson and Terrel Floyd would all be welcome on most rosters across the country. Coming into the season this was looked at to be one of the strongest positions on the field for the Cards.
Secondary 1st Quarter Grade = C+
Now, when you look at the first three games from a numbers standpoint, it’s not so impressive. UNC QB Bryn Renner passed the ball for 363 yards and five touchdowns to one interception and UK’s Max Smith threw for 280 yards and two touchdowns. On the season thus far Louisville’s opponents are averaging just under 265 passing yards and just over 2.5 touchdowns in the air per game. Louisville’s Pass Defense is ranked 92nd out of 120 teams in FBS. For a Charlie Strong and Vance Bedford defense, that’s going to have to improve. Some say that it starts upfront and the lack of pressure on the QB is allowing more time to get the pass off and get it off accurately. In the end of the day, it is The Secondary. This unit is the secondary line of defense on the football field and if the front line doesn’t break up a play, you have to count on the secondary to get it done. The schemes that the Cards have faced and will continue to face as the season progresses doesn’t seem to favor Louisville’s style, but you have to adapt and keep moving.
Louisville is still winning games so I’m going to rate them in the middle of the pack. I suspect this grade to improve as the season progresses. I don’t have a statistic to back it up, but I’m pretty sure the Cards opponents aren’t getting a whole lot of YAC against this secondary. Louisville’s opponents are averaging 10.3 yards per catch. They’re making tackles and breaking up the pass if they are in place. The problem is, they aren’t always in place. Coverage has to improve and it will. Just hopefully sooner than later.
Keep in mind that Louisville corner Andrew Johnson made the biggest defensive play of the game on Saturday against UNC. The talent is there for Vance Bedford, but the results haven’t been exactly what we had expected thus far.